A non-matching mix of  Conservation Area lamp standards : From left to right –  a traditional cast-iron Victorian gas lamp converted to electricity, a modern LED “shiny pole” and decorative Esplanade lamp standard

The Vale of Glamorgan Council – currently pressing ahead with Phase One of its plans to convert all the street lamps in residential areas of Penarth to LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting –  has hit a major snag in the Penarth Conservation Area.

In most locations the new LED lights are being installed in existing steel or concrete lamp standards.

Vale Council ‘cabinet’ member Cllr Peter King (Labour Cornerswell) dons a hi-viz jacket and a helmet for the launch of “Phase One” of the LED street-light conversion

The new LED lights are so cheap to run they will enable the council to leave lighting in residential areas on all night – rather than it be turned-down or turned-off under the present “part night lighting” arrangements.

However, in the architecturally sensitive Penarth Conservation Area, the LED lamps can’t be easily installed in many of the traditional black-painted cast-iron lighting standards – some of which date back to the times when gas-lamps illuminated the flagstoned pavements of the town.

Some of the venerable cast-iron lamp-standards (originally gas lamps) in the Penarth Conservation Area . The one on the far left was made in 1883 by D Evans at the Eagle Foundry in Llandaff (before Llandaff was part of Cardiff) . Others were cast in Newport . When converted to electricity, the original glass lamphousing was removed and replaced by an ugly steel swan neck fitting with a timing box.

The Vale Council is currently investigating what options it has for converting the existing Victorian and Edwardian  lamp-standards to LED lighting in the Penarth Conservation Area and whether  upgrading the old traditional lamps will achieve the necessary energy savings .

The older cast-iron lamp standards in Penarth  are therefore being left out of “Phase One” of the  LED conversion programme – but will be included in Phase Two.

Before they were butchered: This original gas lamphousing – at the entrance to St Augustine’s Church is one of the last remaining Victorian  lamp housings in Penarth . ALL the cast-iron lamp standards in the Conservation Area once looked like this – and could do so again .

There are around 1,000 non-standard cast-iron or ornamental light fittings in the Vale  for which replacement parts are hard  – or impossible –  to come by.

When electricity came to Penarth and replaced gas-lighting the original old cast iron lamp standards were retained in the Conservation area – but the original glass lamp- housings were removed and clumsily replaced with a variety of fittings – many the “swan-neck” type with the ugly exposed timer box and orange sodium bulb.

If all the cast-iron lamp standards in the Conservation area were restored to how they used to look it in Victorian times it would unify the look of this historic part of the town – conservationists say.

Some conservationists say that the switch to LED now provides the Vale Council with a golden opportunity to re-install traditional-style lamphouses  – like that in St Augustine’s Church –  on ALL the Victorian and Edwardian cast-iron standards.

The Vale council says however that when it  can’t get hold of replacement parts for the old lamp standards in the Conservation Area, it will replace them with modern brushed steel type standards fitted with modern LED lamps.

A council source says a modern lamp standard is now considered to be a better option in a Conservation Area than installing a new reproduction “Victorian-type” light. Conservation officers look down their noses at reproductions – labelling them as a “pastiche” of the original – genuine – items .

A Vale council spokesperson said that the council will try to preserve and convert old cast-iron lamp standards to LED where it can,  but if it can’t – then  a new modern lamp standard will have to be installed to replace it.

Sideways-on it’s possible to see which local foundry cast each lamp standard. They all add to the distinctive character of the Conservation Area

It’s not known  whether Penarth Civic Society has yet been consulted about this policy which could result in a variable mix of old and modern lamp standards on the same street – similar to the situation already obtaining in Bridgeman Road (see top picture) .

There are about 16,000 street-lighting  units across the Vale of Glamorgan – of which about 33% have already been converted to LED. The current work is concentrating on converting all residential street-lighting to LED by the end of the year .


About NewsNet

Penarth Daily News email address . Penarth Daily News is an independent free on-line fair and balanced news service published by NewsNet Ltd covering the town of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, UK. All our news items are based on the information we receive or discover at the time of publication and are published on the basis that they are accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief at that time. Comments posted on the site by commentators reflect their opinions and are not necessarily shared, endorsed or supported by Penarth Daily News.
This entry was posted in Penarth Daily News. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Pat Salthouse says:

    Vale wasting money again! This lighting is poor for drivers at night. . Just sample the ones already installed. Dull , cold looking and a backward step to the lighting of our streets back in the 50’s

  2. JTR69 says:

    There is no technical reason for these lamps not to be upgraded with an off-grid solar/LED solution, I work in this field. If they must be replaced, then why not get Ross Lovegrove to design them (Penarth design superstar). This is interesting:

    • 92 and a social butterfly says:

      Yes indeed, lets build on our Victorian and Edwardian Legacy and leave behind a beautiful town for its future residents, after all we are only passing through.

  3. Dan Potts says:

    The old cast iron Street lights are part of the heritage and charm of our town. I hope VOG do the right thing for once and make every effort to keep them .

  4. Anne Greagsby says:

    The Vale highways department doesn’t even have to consult with the one conservation officer they employ. It is impossible to find out their plans. They should consult with the community first. The civic society hasn’t discussed it as they aren’t concerned with preserving our conservation areas.

  5. Philip Rapier says:

    Welsh Government Technical Advice Note 12 Section 5.6.2. Historic Environment- “DESIGN”- March 2016
    says- NO- you are completely wrong and PDN’s Council “Source” has clearly not read it either.

    Welsh Government demands that Conservation of the Heritage Townscape be the first and only consideration and if necessary when no compatible design is available the status quo Lamp Posts should remain. The LED saving is secondary

    Documented evidence, (including all discussion notes), that the Guidelines have been followed would of course be available through a Freedom Of Information Request.

    This is cheapskate connivance at its penny pinching, destructive worst.

    The obvious tactic is to proclaim this fabrication as Welsh Government Policy “butcher” a Conservation Area’s Trees and Lamp Posts first and ask questions later.
    This Heritage Hacheting is cruelly insensitive, tiresome, predictable and demonstrates an appalling lack of imagination.
    Continuance of such strategy in our Conservation Area could become a matter of complaint to the, Planning Inspectorate and even the Local Government Ombudsman.

    • Anne Greagsby says:

      Is this labour Cllr Philip Rapier? You’ve had 5 years to sort this. I wrote to Lis Burnett some time ago asking why the conservation officer had no say in the highways decision making, as they can do what they like in Penarth regarding street furniture, poles and street clutter as well as remove heritage lamp posts, as they did in John Street and replace paving slabs with tarmac. And the labour town council lets their secretive momentum group take charge of these matters and as with the ugly concrete Penarth Bench, they totally ignore preserving our conservation area without asking advice from the VoG conservation officer. Doesn’t the town council with 20 employees have a single officer who has some knowledge and care for our conservation areas?

    • Philip Rapier says:

      The following FOI was submitted this afternoon on the What do They Know Website
      Dear Vale of Glamorgan Council,
      I refer to the on line Report of the Cabinet Member for Visible Services to Cabinet on Street Lighting Strategy 25 April 16. I am unable to find any published Council Strategy in respect of Street Lighting in Conservation Areas.
      Please provide minutes extracts and the Cabinet Member for Visible Services discussion notes in respect of all subsequent Reports to Cabinet, Committee and Council where the Penarth Conservation Area has been discussed in respect of LED installation. Please also provide this same format of evidence in addition that demonstrates whether Welsh Assembly Government Guidance Notes have been referred to.
      Specifically whether Welsh Government Technical Advice Note 12 Section 5.6.2. Historic Environment- “DESIGN”- March 2016 has been discussed or presented in the Cabinet Papers.

  6. Jim says:

    Oh, they’ll be gone soon enough, I’m quite sure, with talk of it being difficult to do or too costly etc, and nobody here will really care a damn – too busy stuffing tapas or drinking “smoked cocktails”.
    If Penarth was anywhere else, its Victorian heritage would be treasured but with that lot in Barry, I think it’s seen as a legacy of wealth, the haves and have-nots.
    I’d imagine they can’t wait to raze the whole lot to the ground and use any money other councils would have spent on cherishing the town’s history for SOCIAL HOUSING (which is much needed in the town.)
    People here will get what’s coming and one day, when our grandkids turn around and say ‘why didn’t you save that?’ we’ll have to tell them it was seen as hip and progressive to knock everything down.

  7. snoggerdog says:

    L.E.D. by the nose.

  8. I first raised the issue of the Victorian lamp standards being ripped out a couple of months ago, and most writers agreed with me that the old standards are an integral part of our Conservation Areas in Penarth. BUT the Vale has already taken out one at the bottom of Church Road, and another has gone at the end of Marine Parade in the last 2 weeks. Officers tell me that they are not subject to “Conservation principles”, and that even if they were, they have not got the money for new “heads”, such as one in Beach Lane, which was only installed a few years ago, and is a perfectly acceptable modern unit replicating the original. Such lack of care is so regrettable, and a good reason why I continue to fight to retain our old lamp standards in Penarth to preserve our past.

    • 92 and a social butterfly says:

      We need to establish the present whereabouts of the removed lamp standards and take them into safe keeping immediately, then we can plan to return them to their rightful place.
      What does the Vale do with our property? Profit from the scrap value? Use our council tax to pay for storage? Or do I need to check out The pump House and Jacobs Market?

  9. 92 and a social butterfly says:

    Is it possible for a street to adopt its lamp standard? They could tie ribbons around it at Easter and tinsel at Christmas and affix important notices to it such as meetings about the pier.

  10. LJS says:

    Neither Vale nor Penarth Councils particularly interested in the conservation area. House and wall alterations carried out with no permission and no enforcement. Gardens converted to parking areas the same. uPVC windows amd door replacements and faux slates allowed… as are hideous additions to listed buildings, eg Ashdene Manor. It’s time some of the councillors took up the mantle of the gradual erosion of the Conservation Area as well as the erosion of the roads to potholes.

    • Richard says:

      Very well said but I fear you’re talking to a (breeze block) wall.

    • LJS – I can assure you that I watch out for the “gradual erosion of the Conservation Area” with undiminished vigour. However please remember that Penarth Town Council is ONLY a Consultee in these matters, and the Enforcement of Conservation lies TOTALLY with the Vale of Glamorgan Council.
      I certainly wish that PTC had additional poweres such as you seek, but that is unlikely under the current Labour administrations in Cardiff Bay and Penarth. I keep up the pressure though, as you would hear if you came along to meetings in Penarth !

  11. AK says:

    Surely it can’t be that difficult to replace the fittings with a modern LED bulb holder – a simple job for any competent electician !

    Show us some evidence otherwise

  12. Max Wallis says:

    The street-lamp near the Clive in John St was the first to go a few months ago, replaced by a dreadful utility steel one, quite out of character with the Conservation Area ( The residents at The Clive wrote objecting, to be told the highways people are in charge. Did they save the victorian lamp standard for resale? Not at all, the Council vandals smashed it into pieces with a sledge hammer.
    The Town Council could put pressure on, but haven’t.yet (says the clerk, Emma Boyland). The conservation officer, saying the swan-neck adaptations are “pastiche” is an excuse for the vandals – he condemns Beachcliffe’s rebuilding as pastiche, while approving the ‘pastiche’ additions to Ashdene
    As the Vale’s conservation officer has no bite, Phil Rapier’s effort to get the Vale Council ‘Visible services’ chief to follow the Welsh TAN12 on the Historic Environment looks the way to go.

    • Jonny says:

      The cash-strapped Vale smashed the old Victorian lamp to pieces – as we all know, worth a good price, even scrap value.
      What the **** is the Vale playing at?

  13. Max Wallis says:

    Unfortunately, Phil Rapier’s faith in the Welsh Government’s guidance on Design re. lighting in the Historic Environment / Conservation Areas is misplaced. This is part of planning law, so covers ‘developments’ in Conservation Areas. The Vale’s road-man say they go by highways law alone, so can disregard the design of street furniture, paving, signing, street lamps – and street trees in our Conservation Area. In other Councils, their highways officers do respect Conservation Area planning – in the Vale it seems it will take a resolution of Council to bring them to heel.

Comments are closed.